With Super Tuesday behind us, our world seems to be hurtling towards the once unthinkable—but now inevitable—presidential smackdown between Hillary Clinton and, yes, Donald Trump.
The same Donald Trump who said he wanted to build a wall next to Mexico and ask them to pay for it. The same Donald Trump who took on Megyn Kelly. The same Donald Trump who called for a ban on all Muslims.
That man could—potentially—be the next President of the United States.
(Editor’s Note: At this point, you may be wondering how this post appeared on our site. After all, this has nothing to do with film or faith, right? Don’t worry. We’ll get there.)
All along, he’s run a campaign that has been brash, brutal and brazenly racist by capitalizing on a fear-based culture. He’s said the unthinkable with pride and enthusiasm and, to be blunt, seems like a monster of epic proportions.
And I don’t believe a word of it.
Now, here I should probably pause to admit that I don’t fully understand American politics. (That’s not because I’m Canadian. It’s because of my lack of interest.) To be honest, I don’t really even understand how the ‘two-party system’ has survived in this day and age. I couldn’t tell you how many representatives are in the senate or the official duties of the President.
But I do know reality tv… and Trump is the master of reality television.
Let’s not forget that, for over a decade, Trump has maintained a public presence as host of The Apprentice (and Celebrity Apprentice) and I admit that I’ve always been a fan of the show. From the business-oriented tasks to, yes, Trump’s larger-than-life personality (and hair), I have always enjoyed his series more than others like Survivor or The Amazing Race. There’s something about the utter chaos of the Boardroom scenes that simply fascinates me, whether it’s watching grown men and women ‘throw each other under the bus’ or Trump’s bizarre reasoning as to which contestant he should ‘fire’.
And herein lies my point.
Everyone who watches reality shows knows that the way to build ratings is to cause drama. If all the contestants get along, it’s simply not ‘good’ television. (No one watches The Real Housewives for their witty political banter.) As a result, over the years, The Apprentice has offered us some of the most cutthroat feuds and villains in reality history. (Omirosa, anyone?)
You see, Trump also knows how to stir the pot. When ratings are down, Trump knows how to get you to pay attention again. Fights with Rosie O’Donnell? Controversial statements? These things always took place before a new season was about to air or be announced. Trump knows that, in order to garner the interest, he needs to cause drama.
Vicious, nasty drama.
Having said this, let’s take a step back and examine his campaign to this point. As time has gone on, his statements have gotten increasingly outlandish and offensive. He has flip-flopped on policies and even bold-faced lied. I’ve even heard him compared to Hitler and even the Anti-Christ.
And we can’t stop paying attention.
Somehow, Trump has managed to stay in the public eye without any particular ‘platform’. Keep in mind that, although this is the first official time he’s run for office, it’s far from the first time that he’s been expressing interest the Oval Office. In fact, prior to this election campaign, he floated the idea of running for President in 1988 (when he actually lost his spot on the ‘ticket’ to Dan Quayle), 2004 and, most famously, 2012. (Remember his quest for Obama’s birth certificate?) All of these years have been his way of figuring out how to manipulate the campaign trail to his benefit.
And now, he’s become a monster… because that’s what he knows we wanted to see. It has set him apart from the rest. Any time Trump began to slip in the polls to the Ben Carson or Ted Cruz, Trump would say something even more outlandish than the last statement and we’d all immediately start focusing on his antics.
Do I think he’s a sexist? Probably. Do I hate the things he’s said? Absolutely.
But do I think he’s stupid? Not for a moment.
In fact, I believe that he’s taken this election and simply made it the first ‘reality campaign’. Call it Keeping Up with the Kandidates if you will—but he’s really the only one we’ve been talking about. (An excellent example of this is Sandra Bullock’s Our Brand is Crisis. Rent it. It’s eerily familiar…)
And that’s the problem.
Trump’s improbable victories come as a direct result of our own desire to watch the latest ‘hot mess’. From Honey Boo-Boo to Kanye West, we love a good ‘train wreck’. It’s possible that it’s because we want to use those people to make us feel better about ourselves but either way, we are attracted to the disaster. If drama weren’t what we craved—if another villain isn’t what we wanted—would Trump stand out? Not a chance.
Trump’s campaign has consistently played on our own lack of interest in taking responsibility for our world, our own lives and sinfulness. Too often, not only do we want to be distracted from looking within, we even look for others to be the reason for society’s ills. Trump has essentially thrown every possible ethnicity or gender in our way and said “The problem isn’t you. It’s them!” This type of propaganda merely allows us the freedom to feel like we’re not the one’s who have been called to participate in what God wants to do. We can’t blame Jesus for not making ‘His Kingdom come’ if we’re not willing to be changed along the way.
Rather than shifting blame. We need to take responsibility.
Trump’s brazen campaign merely exposes this within us. Personally, I simply don’t think anyone could be as ‘bad’ as he pretends to be. It’s possible… but unlikely. (Though, believe me, I’m praying that I’m wrong in this case…) In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if, by May/June, he completely retracted everything he’s said to this point. What he’s done may win a nomination, but it couldn’t possibly win a presidency?
Please say I’m right.